Feature Article (Pub: February 04) Search Engine Optimisation - Target the right audience by Paul Rudman
So you've got your web site up and running and now it's time to submit it to the search engines; how are you going to make sure that you get the relevant audience to your website?
Here are a few key points to consider when looking at optimising:-
Your brand identity
You may have built your web site to support and enhance your offline business, such as your shop or factory for example.
You need to make sure that your brand is protected on the Internet. Your competitors may be selling the same products and services as you, and in some extreme cases may even be taking away potential customers from you if you do not take measures to ensure that users find your website when they are looking for your website.
The majority of Internet searches are conducted across relatively few major search engines such as Google, AOL, Altavista, and Yahoo!. These engines provide geographical specific search options, and it's important you take this into account when targeting the right audience.
For example, to narrow down a search for a car rental agency, a prospective customer may include geographical criteria - e.g. "South East UK car rental" or "London car rental".
It is essential that the text within your website makes where you are based absolutely clear, as search engines will index this text and it will improve your chances of the being found by potential customers.
Allow for different words and phrases
Remember this:- Everyone uses search engines in a different way.
The odds of all your search engine referrals being from exactly the same query (i.e. text typed into a search engine) are minimal, so remember to include text on your website that describes what your company does/offers in lots of different ways, ensuring your area of expertise is emphasised.
For example, the terms "South East real estate", "London property letting" and "UK Realty" are all different expressions of the same area of expertise, and all are likely to be used by different people.
Remembering this fact, and making sure the text in your website takes account of it by 'covering all the angles' (i.e. different potential search terms users may enter into a search engine) will increase your chances of the right audience finding your website through search engines.
Your area of expertise
There are people out there using search engines to find products and services that you offer who have never heard of you. These are the casual browsers who may not be experts in a product they are looking for, but know the specific market.
For example, if you sell garden equipment and furniture, remember to optimise your website text to include this rather than refer constantly to specific products and brands such as "foldaway canvas decking chairs".
Draw the casual browsers in - this will allows a user-friendly website, optimised for the right target audience, to increase the number of visitors to - and the visitor-to-customer conversion ratio of - your site.
Your products and services
- Target the focused, expert searchers.
- If someone is looking for a specific product, then make sure that if you sell it, you tell them about it.
- The text on your product pages should be very specific about what they are describing.
Expert search engine users, and experts in knowing what they want are impatient and do not want to be led around a website for 3 or 4 pages before reaching the product, they want to go straight to it, and see what it costs so they can buy it.
This is why it is so important to optimise the text on your product pages to be specific to the product or service for sale. Previous research has shown that approximately 50% of users leave each time they have to click another link on a site to get to what they want. Optimising your products and services pages will get you more referrals and more business from your website.
Follow the above tips on how to target the correct audience using search engines and you will see the benefits, both in terms of the number of search engine referrals you get, and the visit-to-conversion ratio.
Paul Rudman is the director and head of optimisation at CommerceTuned, he's been involved in developing search strategies and search engine optimisation for 7 years.